Saturday, 8 June 2013

recipe: spinach & mushroom penne

Although I haven’t fashioned this as a food blog, its becoming quickly apparent that one of things I find most interesting to write about is food, buying it, cooking it, sharing it and eating it. Which isn't a surprise to me really as that’s pretty much what interests me in real life too.

So although I plan to keep the topics broad, I’m not going to resist the calling to write about one of my favourite things! Taking stock of my recipe books, and the arrival of the latest box from Riverford, combined into this dinner on Friday night. It was adapted from a Mary Berry recipe which included blue cheese, cream and nutmeg, none of which were to hand. Mushrooms, spinach and penne I did have though, so a few quick substitutions and away we went.

Before I go any further, I have to admit mushrooms are not my favourite thing. The Husband (who when I told him this was his label, was not impressed as it makes him sound ‘ominous’, but we are yet to find an alternative) loves mushrooms, so I keep trying to convince myself that I do too. I love the flavour, and will eat them in any dish when they are finely chopped and well disguised.

However, when they are the mainstay of the dish, like in this particular recipe, it doesn't really do to try and cover up the fact that they are there. I enjoyed this dish, but in the interests of full disclosure, there were a few stray mushrooms lining the bottom of the bowl when I finished. The Husband was pleased by this as it vindicated him after a memorable meal a few weeks ago when he sat and picked the courgettes out of a vegetable sauce dish I had made.

Mushrooms aside, this is my ideal Friday night supper. Quick, tasty and reasonably healthy. It wasn't too heavy considering the warm weather we were having but still felt right for a cosy night in. Italy is one of our favourite places, and a big part of that is the amazing food. The Husband would eat pasta every night if he could, perhaps taking a break intermittently to switch it up with some pizza.

If we don’t have plans on a Friday, we usually make it a movie night. After dinner we closed the curtains, had a glass of wine, and watched Argo. It had come highly recommended and I can understand why. I've been a fan of Ben Affleck since Good Will Hunting, and based on Gone Baby Gone was expecting it be a good watch with him as director, and I wasn't disappointed. I can’t remember the last time a film hooked me in and kept me gripped right until the credits rolled.

Ingredients (Serves Two to Three)

250g penne pasta
1 clove of garlic – chopped or crushed
30g butter
175g mushrooms - sliced
200g cream cheese
30ml skimmed milk
60g spinach – coarsely chopped
60g cheddar cheese - grated
1 medium egg – lightly beaten


1.       Bring salted water to the boil and add the pasta. Continue to boil until cooked to your taste.
2.       In a large pan melt the butter over a medium heat.
3.       Add finely chopped garlic to the butter, stir well and cook on medium heat for a minute or so.
4.       Add sliced mushrooms to the melted butter and garlic. Season well with salt and pepper and cook on medium heat until softened, stirring occasionally.
5.       Add cream cheese and milk to the mushrooms. Stir well until sauce takes a smooth consistency. Continue to simmer until pasta is cooked.
6.       Once the pasta is cooked , add a few tablespoons of the pasta water to the mushroom sauce and stir well. Drain the pasta, and add this to the mushroom sauce. Stir well until the pasta is well coated with the sauce.
7.       Add the beaten egg to the pasta and mushrooms and stir well. Add the chopped spinach and grated cheese to the pasta and mushrooms. Stir until well combined, and then continue to cook on a medium heat until spinach has wilted and cheese has melted. Once cooked through serve.

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